The MHF is saddened by the Nelson fires that continue to displace hundreds of people and disrupt their sense of home, safety and wellbeing. Our thoughts are with everyone affected as well as the brave firefighters, volunteers and other emergency response services working around the clock to get the fires under control and support those who cannot yet return to their homes and livestock.
Disasters like this are incredibly stressful and it’s important to know that it’s normal to feel anxious and upset and that it’s okay to ask for help if you need to. If you’re struggling to cope please reach out to whānau, friends, colleagues, neighbours or a counsellor for support.
For those not directly affected by the fires, please check in with friends and whānau and offer any support and aroha you can.
Everyone responds differently in these situations – right now many people will be running on adrenalin, trying to get through each moment. Others may feel helpless and scared and unable to know what to do, or how to help. Many will be experiencing physical reactions such as feeling shaky, queasy and struggling to concentrate. Whatever you’re feeling, be kind to yourself – you’re doing the best you can right now.
At times like this it can feel like you have little control. Here are some simple things you can do to look after yourself and the people you love, particularly children/tamariki who may have a hard time understanding what is happening.
Take care of yourself
Take care of your tamariki/children
On your own?
Sometimes it’s hard to reach out to people around you. Think about ringing a community group for a chat, catch up with your neighbour, listen to the radio or ring your family.
Maybe you can offer help to others.
The emotional impact of traumatic events like these fires can take a very real toll on our mental health and wellbeing. If you’re not coping, or someone you care about needs some extra support, there is help available.
Visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website (www.mentalhealth.org.nz) for a list of helplines you can contact for support. Here’s a few:
The All Right? campaign also has a range of articles for supporting people after a disaster. See https://allright.org.nz/theme/mind-your-head/disaster-support/.